Directors are invariably fascinated by mythologies, historical events and characters. These stories may be stereotyped, familiar to the majority, but if the presentation is excellent, these stories are everlasting, effective and powerful.
Emperor Akbar, Prince Salim and Charming Anarkali, the royal maid servant are historical characters. They lived 500 years ago, still today limitless attraction about them exists. The producers are aware that they constitute a perfect filmy subject even though making a movie on a royal theme is expensive, and so from the era of the silent movies film production on this story continues.
First of all in 1928 Imperial film company produced Anarkali silent movie. Superstar heroine Ruby Myers-Sulochana played Anarkali and it became hit film of 1928. Himanshu Rai presented another picture “Love of Mughal Prince”. The picture was magnificent. But viewer’s choice was only Sulochana as Anarkali.
In 1935 Imperial co. again produced Anarkali, this time talky. Its director was.S.Choudhari. Sulochana acted as Annasaheb Mainkar song was very appropriate to the theme.
This former famous Anarkali, after 18 years, acted as johrabai, Anarkali’s mother in law in filmistan film Anarkali.
The temptation can’t be avoided to compare the two movies Anarkali and Mughal -e – Azam having the same story. The main characters are same namely Akbar, Jodhabai, Salim ,Anarkali and Tansen.
Unaware of worldly atmosphere Anarkali is with Salim. He had embraced her delicately. Both are in romantic mood. On this background Tansen sings Thumri in sohoni rag :- Prem Jogan Banke means becoming lovesick.
Mogul time before 500 years old is exactly portrayed; to viewers by Tansen’s Thumri Ustad Bade Ghulam Ali has sung this Thumry. King star Dilip Kumar’s deep involvement in acting Madhubala’s haunted beauty shadowed by this Thumry Ghulam Al’s magnetic note fills the atmosphere, and creates magical ambience.
The amusing aspect is Tansen’s part performed by old time famous singer-actor Surendra. He gave only lip movements, Thumri was playback for him.
While composing Jaag dard-e-ishq jaag for Anarkali, music director C. RAMCHANDRA, kept the song’s serious touch, solemnity intact. This song is in Haag Bageshri and sung by Hemant Kumar in his typically low echoed husky voice, and brought out the speciality in Tansen’s singing style.Lata Mangeshkar gratified Anarkali’s melody and sentimentality. Dhrupad Dhamar singing styles were prevalent in that period, i.e. 500 years ago Sarangi, Been,Pakhawaj, Veena were accompanying instruments played for that era. Khayal or Thumari are comparatively modern varieties of singing.
Jayant Desai directed Tansen in 1943 for Ranjit Movietone. Mubarak who played Akbar’s important role in this film, later on performed the same character in Anarkali. This Akbar was sober and kind. Whereas wrestler like bodied muscular Prithviraj Kapoor was fit figure for Akbar in Mughal-E-Azam. Hardness of stone and stern face were his assets. His voice had changed because of ageing. His dialogue delivery was mixture of Urdu and Farsi, full of dramatic aspect so difficult to comprehend. Prithviraj’s Akbar seemed stubborn, tough. There were number of heroines in Hindi in film world with natural potency and beauty. But regal, heroines, were only three. First was senior star Durga Khote, who acted in silent as well as talky. Second was Naseem Banu and third was Veena. They seemed from royal families, sharp with graceful movements and determining faces and gallant , who could hold sword in hand and fight. Durga Khote as Jodha Bai was extraordinary. She could neither be imitated in the past nor is it possible in the future also. Jodhabai poses two contrast characters. She is composite of a strong sturdy Rajput Maharani and a loving mother. Torn between her helplessness and tension. Viewers feel for her. She is confused when she gets the challenge to choose between her husband and her son. She is in turmoil, her courage evaporates. She becomes crippled. Viewers are carried away by this.
Pradip was alright as Salim, but his acting was not upto standard. Dilip Kumar carries out any role with perfection. Especially so if it is a lover’s character. His expressions convey anything without words. He does not require much dialogue.
Sohrab Modi produced Pukar in 1939, which was the best historical atmosphere’s first picture. He filmed it in a palace. Penetrating eyed actor Chandra Mohan was Mogul monarch. Sohrab Modi was his court’s nobleman. Both are arguing with each other for proper justice. The dialogues were written by Kamal Amrohi. Viewers used to greet it with a great and continuous roar of applause. Dialogue writing became an important aspect of movies after Pukar. Mughal-e-Azam dialogues are short, but effective. Madhubala had god’s gift; heavenly beauty. K.Asif was convinced that such a beauty is rarely found on earth. She was not an expert , accomplished dancer like Vyjayanthimala, neither she was gifted actress like Meenakumari. Still public was mad after her sight. People used to sign on her appearance. She was made Malika for a day. This scene is unforgettable. Very touching. In Bekas pe reham kijiye’ scene Madhubala is shown tied with heavy iron chains around her. Such a delicate, pretty, helpless Anarkali. Audience curse K.Asif for Madhubala’s pitiful condition. No doubt he was supreme director, still he had no right to torture Madhubala in this way. Was she a murderer? Was she a dacoit? Whatever it may be, Mughal-e-azam immensely satisfied public. They enjoyed it to the most. It was a feast to their eyes.
In Mughal-e-azam Naushad’s music, Lata and Rafi sweet voices are certainly plus points which are worth sheer appreciation. The climax is Lata’s playback. She has sung for Anarkali in such a way that one feels (not Lata but) Anarkali herself is singing. Lata and Anarkali cannot be separated. Specially the song at the end Khuda Nigehbaan ho tumhare Dharakte Dil Ke Salam Le-Lo’ fills mind with pain, suffering. Public regret for Anarkali. With heavy heart people leave the theatre.
When you take a child to the big toy shop, he is astonished and confused. Likewise we feel dumb founded after watching colourful Mughal-e Azam. We are completely fumbled; what to see, what to remember! Once seeing is not enough We are unsatisfied, not contented. K.Asif has treated this story with uncomparable perfection. Nobody can touch that height. That is why such production adventure daring could not be repeated till now. This is the greatness of Mughal-E Azam. It is the vital, excellent, exceptional experiment of movie world.